Bolton Potholes

Location: Bolton, VT
Stream  : Joiner Brook
Swimming: Yes

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today my wife and I visited this location. It was the first time I've attempted to view the falls here. Following the description sent to me by John Roberts 16 years ago (below) we searched for the parking area. Unfortunately no obvious parking spot could be found. Instead in what appeared to be the vicinity of the falls, there were fences and no parking signs. All other areas appeared to be private property. Our conclusion is that these falls are no longer accessible.

A quick Internet search shows a notation on that says the town of Bolton has banned parking at the location due to excessive illegal parking. So unfortunately the popularity of this spot as a swimming hole has apparently been its demise.

Description Received October 1, 1996

The following description and photographs were sent to me by John Roberts. I have not yet visited these falls, but may do so soon. Thanks, John, for the information!

From the west, say Burlington, take Rt 2 to Bolton. There is an intersection at Bolton where Rt 2 passes beneath Rt 89, the expressway. Turn left onto the paved road that parallels the stream. Within a quarter mile, the road inclines sharply and there are widened shoulders for parking.

Bolton Potholes From the parking spot, follow any of several paths to the stream. If you can ignore the almost ever-present litter, you will see God's playground. At the top of the falls is a narrow pool roughly 30 ft long, 15 ft wide, and 8 ft deep. The sides are solid granite and there is a short falls at the upstream end. This pool empties into a 20 ft falls with an oval pool beneath. The oval pool is about 12 ft wide at its narrowest dimension. I swam here many times and can tell you that beneath the surface, the pool becomes very round and according to local legend is 25 ft deep. I can't confirm this since I haven't found the bottom personally (claustrophobia usually takes hold before I'm 10 ft down).

Although this is enough to rank number one on my list of waterfalls, there's more. The oval pool empties like a pitcher over a 10 ft free fall into a 30 ft diameter round pothole. This pothole is 8 to 10 ft deep at a point near the inlet and is stone and gravel filled to 3 to 5 ft elsewhere. Local daredevils/idiots jump from the highest cliffs above to the deep spot. Despite the thrill, these episodes usually end with the water turning pink.

The outlet of the pothole pours over a kind of natural stone lip. The stream narrows and flows over steeply inclined bare granite to another short falls. If you're careful, by sitting on your hands (palms down) you can slide down this incline and off the falls below. As you slide off the falls, you have to push off to preserve your tailbone. The pool below is deep enough for this although I haven't taken the time to measure it. One of my family's favorite distractions resides here. There are hundreds of two-inch minnows that have red-orange pectoral fins. If you stand still in the water, these minnows crowd around your feet and toes and nibble on them. It feels quite eerie.

After sending me the information above, John followed up with some more points.

Bolton Potholes

  1. Although the oval pool is very deep early on, it gradually fills with gravel through the summer. Each spring, its depth is renewed from the spring thaw torrent off the mountain. I jumped into it late one August and was surprised to find my knees driven into my chest. The depth was about 4 ft and I was grateful I didn't dive.
  2. This falls is usually crowded with local college students on warm summer weekends. That can be a good or bad thing depending on whether or not you are looking for a college crowd.
  3. I left out that there is a dramatic view to the south from the top of the falls. The stream side walls frame a majestic foothill of Camel's Hump Mountain.
  4. Unless you're part sea-lion, the water is too cold to endure until July. Even then, you are reminded of your gender when you plunge in.
  5. I'm no meteorologist. By trade, I usually estimate dimensions in angstroms. Outdoors, using feet, I tend to underestimate dimensions so I tried to estimate generously.

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© Copyright 2012 by Peter C. Chapin.
Last Revised: October 21, 2012